ATD Blog

Your Amazing Neurological Design

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The science of learning is an interdisciplinary field of study that provides evidence of a significant reciprocal relationship between neurological dominance and why people learn, think, and behave differently; why we process information uniquely; and why we are smart in different ways.

Anyone responsible for identifying talent, developing talent, and improving performance should strengthen their understanding of neurological dominance. The dominance of different brain areas and senses provides a framework that helps people identify and understand their natural talents and personal preferences, as well as those of colleagues, peers, and managers. It also has numerous applications for relationships, teamwork, and whole brain communication. Alignment between people’s neurological dominance and what they do explains why people are passionate about their jobs, energized, engaged, and in flow.

Your Design

Your neurological design (referred to as your neuro-design) is as unique as your fingerprints. It comprises the strengthened neural networks between the dominant senses and various preferred brain regions that form a specific blueprint of how every individual prefers to process information. A person’s neuro-design consists of the unique interrelationship between lateral dominance, expressive-receptive preference, and rational-emotional preference. These uniquely strengthened pathways lead to different brain, thinking, and learning languages.

Furthermore, there are at least 16 different combinations of brain hemisphere, eye, ear, and hand dominance that cause people to process information differently when they learn. It becomes a person’s blueprint for learning, thinking, and behaving. It will determine whether a person has access through their dominant senses to their dominant brain hemisphere during stress, or if they may experience a neurological hindrance that inhibits electrical transmission between the senses and the hemispheres. Added to the unique processing style of each person is the specific emphasis on, and sensory preference for, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning.


Another component of a person’s neuro-design that makes them learn, think, and behave differently from others is their unique combination of intelligence preferences. All people are smart, but in different ways. Einstein was science smart. Mozart was music smart. Mandela was interpersonal smart. The question to ask is not “Am I smart?” but rather “How am I smart? What is my unique combination of intelligence preferences and how does that influence how I think, learn, behave, and enjoy work?”

Understanding how these factors make up your unique neuro-design will give you an indication of how you are naturally talented and your unique learning potential. Optimal brain performance starts with alignment between potential and the skills you learn. If a person has a natural preference to be logical or mathematically smart, learns appropriate math skills, and works in a place where that potential and skill are utilized, the person may become very passionate, engaged, and good at what they do. If that same person never learns appropriate math skills that are aligned with their natural mathematical intelligence potential, that person may never be passionate and engaged in what they do.

To understand the journey to performance optimization and mastery, the following formulas are relevant:

  • Neuro-design (your potential) + no skills = potential (an indication of what can be, but not of what is)
  • Neuro-design (your potential) + general skills = competence
  • Neuro-design (your potential) + appropriate skills aligned with neuro-design = good
  • Neuro-design (your potential) + good reinforcement of skills aligned with neuro-design = great
  • Neuro-design (your potential) + great reinforcement of aligned skills = excellence and mastery

Thus, the journey to self-mastery and excellence starts with accurately understanding your neuro-design (potential).
People make companies great. To grow a company from good to great, the talent development professionals in that company need to develop happy, engaged workers who are top performers. This journey starts with accurately identifying the learning potential (neuro-design) of each individual, and then developing appropriate learning solutions for them to change their unique potential into competence.

Drivers That Optimize Brain Performance


All people have potential, but different kinds of potential based on their neurological design. Knowing your unique neurological design and understanding the drivers that optimize your brain performance is the key to potential development and performance optimization. Effective and successful people manage their neuro-design and the drivers that optimize it so they can get what they want and become who they can be.

Unfortunately, our world has always had a binary approach to performance, suggesting one thing or the other. You are either left hemisphere or right hemisphere oriented, expressive or receptive, rational or emotional. This produces a limiting view of who we are; it doesn’t accommodate the concept that you are a whole brained person who can do whatever is expected of you. The better perspective should be one of inclusiveness—you are left hemisphere and right hemisphere oriented, expressive and receptive, rational and emotional. One region may lead because it is dominant, but the other region can function as effectively as the dominant region. When all brain regions are firing on all cylinders simultaneously, there is a multiplication effect that optimizes your brain’s performance.

Your brain has the potential to help you do whatever life requires of you. It has unlimited potential in terms of what you can learn, think, and create. Sometimes a person may not appear to act like someone with unlimited potential, because there may be an absence or lack of drivers that optimize their performance. To optimize your brain performance and enable all hemispheres, lobes, and brain regions to function simultaneously as one functional whole-brained system, you need to provide it with the right physical and mental stimulation and create the right conditions to thrive. There are eight drivers—brain fitness, sleep, stress, diet, mindset, movement, cognitive skills, and the physical environment—that can negatively or positively influence your brain’s performance. To get the most out of your entire brain, it is essential that you know how these drivers influence your neurological design and learn appropriate skills to optimize these drivers.

For a closer look at how your neurological design determines who you are, and how you process information, join me October 26-27 at the ATD 2017 China Summit.

About the Author

André Vermeulen is the CEO of Neuro-Link, an international consultancy specializing in the neuroscience of workplace learning. He is the architect and owner of the Neuro-Link brand and business system, which consists of various brain profile assessments to determine learning potential and brain-training solutions to optimize brain performance. As an international motivational speaker, André has presented at TEDx and numerous international conferences and events, including the ATD International Conference & Exposition since 2000. André has been a guest on many radio and television talk shows across the globe and hosts his own television show,  Breinkrag (Brain Power). André has published books and more than 30 articles in magazines and newspapers in Germany, the United States, South Africa, and Costa Rica on the neuroscience of learning, brain-based learning and development, and other wellness-related topics. 

1 Comment
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I wonder how much of the MBTI profiling ( or LSA analysis ( can help in determining my neuro-design? Do you use any of these as an assistance?
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